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Highland flinging part two

It's a sunny day in Grey County. It's supposed to cloud up but not rain today. Which is good, because we are off to watch Rachel's barrel racing competition that was canceled during a downpour a couple of weeks ago.

I have so many photos from so many places we visited in Scotland that I thought I'd do a second post. So here goes. I'll call it the churchy edition.

St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on Orkney is the centrepiece of the town. The building started in 1137 and it took 300 years to get it done. It's roots are Viking, built by Earl Rognvald in honour of his uncle Magnus, who was killed by his cousin. In true Scottish bloody tradition, they were supposed to share the earldom, but the cousin didn't want to play.

Anyhow, in addition to this beauty, there is a wee church that predates it on the northwest corner of the island in Birsay. Apparently, the original was established in 1064.

The one in Birsay continues to function, serving the people of the village where, in true Scottish style, the post box gets hijacked for nesting season.

While not exactly religious, the Maeshowe Chambered Cairn is what archeologists think is a Neolithic tomb from 5,000 years ago.

While we weren't allowed to take pictures inside, we did need to bend nearly in half to walk along the 10 metre entrance, which was constructed with massive stone slabs. As usual with these incredible historical sites, there's more...Norse people broke into the mound about 3,000 years after it was constructed to see what treasures it might be hiding.

They left behind runic graffiti etched into the walls - most of which said things like "Ofram the son of Sigurd carved these runes". Naturally, it was constructed so that the sun shines bright through the entry exactly on the winter solstice, when the days start to get longer.

Finally, the Italian Chapel was a wonder. Built by Italian prisoners of war during WW2, the chapel is made of two Nissen huts put together. The prisoners worked tirelessly to make the chapel as ornate and beautiful as the Catholic cathedrals they knew back home. Pretty good for a bunch of guys who were born in Italy, captured in North Africa and lived on Orkney where their day job was to help build the Churchill Barriers to cut off access to the British naval fleet by German U-Boats.

So that's it for this week. Here's a gratuitous 'hairy coo' picture of a highland bovine instead of the feline photo.


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